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"Vote Sinn Féin, get the Army Council." - Labour's new election slogan?

Tánaiste Joan Burton had some strong words for Sinn Fein this evening.

Image: Eamonn Farrell

TÁNAISTE JOAN BURTON told the Dáil this evening that Sinn Féin “lay wreaths at UK memorials now, not blow them up”.

The robust attack from Burton came as the Dáil was given the opportunity to make statements on Northern Ireland and the Labour leader delivered some forceful criticism of Sinn Féin.

Burton said that the recent assessment from the British government showed that “the Army Council continues to exist and exerts control over Sinn Fein.”

“Vote Sinn Fein, get the Army Council,” she told the chamber before claiming that the party has “no viable strategy to bring about a united Ireland”.

Burton also went on to reference the recent incident of a Sinn Féin councillor calling the IRFU as ‘West Brit’ organisation, something she said demonstrated “the contradiction of the republican position”:

Surely, a Sinn Féin representative genuinely interested in bringing unionist and nationalist, north and south together would be supportive of an all-island institution like the IRFU? In fairness, Sinn Féin have come a long way in recent years. They lay wreaths at UK memorials now, not blow them up.

Burton’s reference could be viewed as a reference to the remembrance day bombing by the IRA in Enniskillen in 1987.

But speaking during the same debate, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that the Irish government was “playing junior partner to the British government” in its acceptance of the recent paramilitary report and its reluctance to engage on issues such as the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

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Adams said that the paramilitary report was produced by “MI5 and the old guard in the RUC” who want to “stop the growth of Sinn Féin”.

“The very people – in MI5 and in the old guard of the RUC – who produced the recent report, have also brought in a veto to stop the families of victims of British terrorism from getting the truth about what happened to their loved ones,” Adams said.

“They are prepared to put the peace and political processes at risk in an effort to stop the growth of Sinn Féin north and south. These are the people some in this Dáil choose to believe, probably for the same reason. The Fianna Fáil leader does not believe the Garda Commissioner. But he does believe MI5.

Adams was pointing to the assessment by An Garda Síochána which found “no evidence” that the IRA has an army council that operates in the Republic of Ireland.

Read: Mary Lou’s Sinn Féin leadership bid has one very important supporter >

Read: Sinn Féin TD defends sarcastic tweets about ‘getting instructions from Army Council’ >

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Rónán Duffy

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